Topeka Public Schools students exceed reading limits

Students at Topeka Public Schools USD 501 exceeded 103 million words and 39,700 literacy hours.
Students at Topeka Public Schools USD 501 exceeded 103 million words and 39,700 literacy hours.(Dane Richardson)
Updated: Mar. 28, 2023 at 4:00 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Topeka Public Schools USD 501 students exceeded 103 million words and 39,700 literacy hours.

Topeka Public Schools said the U.S. is facing a reading crisis. The National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) reported that only 32% of 4th-grade students could read proficiently in 2022.

Topeka Public Schools has been working to beat these odds. In the 2021-23 school years, USD 501 has focused on making educational investments to prepare children for academic success at home and in school. Thanks to an innovative, bilingual program, USD 501 pre-K through 3rd-grade students read more than 103 million words and read for over 39,700 hours during the 2021-23 school years.

Two years ago, Topeka Public Schools selected Footsteps2Brilliance, a bilingual early literacy solution, to create a proactive model for accelerating kindergarten readiness and 3rd-grade reading proficiency. Footsteps2Brilliance is a standards-aligned, game-based solution available in English and Spanish that personalizes instruction and is available to students and their parents via mobile devices.

As of March 2023, Topeka Public Schools students have achieved a 10-point increase in Phonological Awareness, more than a 5-point increase in Phonics and Language, a 6-point increase in Reading Comprehension, and more than a 4-point gain in Logic and Reasoning.

“Footsteps2Brilliance has been a wonderful program to develop the reading and writing skills of our PreK-3 grade students. Students love the programs, and teachers see the program’s impact on student learning,” said Robin Dixon, PreK-5 ELA/SS Consulting Teacher.

“We began our work in USD 501 with the focus of building their foundational literacy and reading scores. I am so proud of the outstanding work that their teachers, students, and families have done to fulfill Topeka’s transformative vision. We are honored to be their partner in this endeavor,” said Ilene Rosenthal, CEO, Footsteps2Brilliance.

Enlisting the support of families, schools, and community partners is at the heart of USD 501′s strategic vision to create an equitable birth through the 3rd-grade ecosystem. And the impact is clear. Topeka Public Schools is seeing significant literacy gains and developing a model for early childhood that can be adopted in other leading school districts to address learning loss and accelerated reading proficiency.